Wait, is there another goalie controversy in Anaheim?

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When the Ducks traded Frederik Andersen to the Leafs, it was widely assumed the “Who’s No. 1?” debate was over.

John Gibson was Anaheim’s guy, after splitting time with Andersen in each of the last two seasons. The Ducks had finally decided to embrace a definitive starter and opt out of the platoon goalie system, after dealing with it for years.

Before Anderson and Gibson, it was Andersen and Jonas Hiller. Before Anderson and Hiller, it was Hiller and Viktor Fasth. In fact, you have to go all the way back to ’11-12 for the last time Anaheim had a clear-cut starter.

That was supposed to change this year.

Until it didn’t.

Gibson was the No. 1 for the majority of the season. But then he suffered a prolonged lower-body injury, and has played exactly once in the last 39 days — a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Mar. 10.

Jonathan Bernier, meanwhile, has been the goalie of record in 16 of the last 17 games. He’s also been as good as Gibson, if not better, since taking the starting gig. In the month of March alone, Bernier went 10-1-2 with a .941 save percentage.

So you know what that means. With just five games left in the regular season, it’s time for Anaheim’s annual rite of passage: Asking who starts in the playoffs!

From the O.C. Register:

Bernier continues to keep the net as Gibson has become available, watching on for the second straight game after recovering from a lower-body injury. Bernier’s lights-out play for more than a month is a key reason why the Ducks are in position to win a fifth straight Pacific Division title.

Asked whether he felt it was important to keep Bernier in rhythm, Carlyle has gone with his tried-and-true response that “we know that we’re going to need both goaltenders.”

“We’ve stated that right from the opening of training camp that we felt we had a 1A and 1B tandem,” Carlyle added. “Obviously, Gibby was our guy and we went with him but he got hurt. He’s been out for more than a month and Bernie come in and gave us the same level of goaltending.

“It’s a unique situation to be in, but it’s one that I think any coach would take at this juncture, especially this time of the season.”

Bernier added to the intrigue with his remarks.

“There’s five games left in the season now,” he said. “I want to really make sure that I’m fresh and, at the same time, mentally ready to go for Game 1.”

The x-factor in all this, of course, is Carlyle.

Anaheim’s history of flip-flopping in goal fell at the feet of Bruce Boudreau (his handling of goalies was largely believed to be part of the reason for his dismissal). Boudreau started Gibson in last year’s opening-round playoff loss to the Preds, only to switch to Andersen midway through. And then there was the infamous ’14 playoffs, in which Boudreau started three different goalies — Andersen, Gibson and Hiller — over a 13-game span.

The Ducks are back in action on Saturday, when they take on the Oilers in Edmonton. Given both are gunning for top spot in the Pacific Division, the game has plenty of meaning — so Carlyle’s starting goalie choice could be pretty telling.

Report: McDavid’s next cap hit will be in $13 million range

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The Edmonton Oilers continue to be busy this off-season. Not only are they looking to bring in new players to help improve their squad, they also have to look at re-signing their two best players.

Leon Draisaitl‘s contract comes to an end on July 1st, while Connor McDavid‘s entry-level deal expires next summer, but it sure sounds like both contracts will get done in the near future.

According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, McDavid is about to become the highest paid player in the NHL by a wide margin.

Both are reporting that McDavid’s new deal is going to be for eight years and over $13 million per season.

Those are big numbers, but it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve that kind of salary.

The 20-year-old was the only player in the league to put up 100 points in 2016-17. His effort on the ice led him to his first Hart and Art Ross Trophies.

Edmonton currently has just over $17.1 million in cap space. Obviously, their two franchise centers will eat up that entire number, but McDavid still has one year left on his current deal, so a new contract would only kick in for the 2018-19 season.

PHT Morning Skate: Crosby would ‘love to’ be a goalie for a game

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Sidney Crosby has accomplished so much in his career, but there’s still one thing he wants to cross off his bucket list. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Crosby admitted that he’d like to be a goalie for a game. “I’d love to play one game in the NHL (as a goalie). We’ll see. There’s still some time left if it ever came down to it. I’d love to get that.” Just a hunch, but I don’t think the Pens would go for that. (Top)

–The Score looks at three 2017 draft prospects that will have the most long-term value to their respective teams. The first two picks of the draft are on the list, but the third name may surprise you. (The Score)

–As you may remember, Connor McDavid took an awkward looking picture with two strangers hugging him pretty tight. The picture, which took place at an airport, immediately went viral. Now, McDavid explained exactly how everything unfolded. Well, that story is pretty stupid. I was walking into the security line and I had actually walked past them. And then they say ‘hey Connor can we get a picture?’ and I say ‘sure’ and sure enough they come up to me and start hugging me. (Yahoo)

–Devils beat reporter Chris Ryan sat down for a Q&A with top pick Nico Hischier, who has a pretty busy summer ahead of him. “I’ll go back (o Switzerland) and practice and do my workouts every day, then I’ll come for Development Camp, and they’ll sit together and tell me what I still need, what I need to improve. Then I’ll go back again and work on those things.” (NJ.com)

–Speaking of Hischier, did you know that he didn’t start playing hockey full time until he was 12 years old? That’s only six years ago. “What you’re looking at is a guy who has a big upside and isn’t even close to reaching the ceiling,” Devils head coach John Hynes said. (New York Times)

 –Kyle Beach was selected 11th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2008. Unfortunately for Beach, he never made it to the NHL and he still isn’t over that. “Whenever you get as close as I did and don’t make it, there are going to be a lot of questions that never can be answered. I was a player growing up who never had to work that hard because I was always a top player. It was a rude awakening. Could I have been more prepared? Absolutely.” (Chicago Tribune)

Video: Crosby to Dan Patrick – Subban fight ‘wasn’t as bad as it looked’

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Listerine, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and a growing rivalry. Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban battled it out at the highest level not so long ago, but some of that action looked worse than it actually was.

At least, that’s the message Crosby sent on “The Dan Patrick Show,” as you can enjoy in the clip above.

As a bonus, Crosby also discussed his favorite Stanley Cup traditions – hey, there can be traditions when something happens three times – and how Mario Lemieux inspires some especially creative ideas:

Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

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For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

Daley – 33
Girardi – 33
Hainsey – 36
Campbell – 38

In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.